Monday, January 21, 2008

FAA History Lesson -- January 21

From the FAA Historical Chronology, 1926-1996...

”Jan 21, 1972: FAA commissioned the first operational Category IIIa instrument landing system at Dulles International Airport. The system, a British-made STAN 37/38, allowed qualified crews flying properly equipped aircraft to land with a runway visibility range (horizontal visibility) of 700 feet and a decision height (vertical visibility) of zero. Previously, the lowest landing minimums had been a 100-foot decision height and a 1,200-foot RVR, the Category II criteria (see Nov 3, 1967). FAA outlined criteria that had to be met before Category IIIa minimums could be approved--airport and ground facilities, airborne systems, pilot training and proficiency requirement, operations procedures, and maintenance standards--in an advisory circular published on Dec 14, 1971. (The Lockheed L-1011 became the first newly certificated aircraft to be equipped with flight guidance equipment that met the Category IIIa criteria.) (See Sep 1972.) “

”Jan 21, 1976: British Airways and Air France began the world's first scheduled supersonic passenger service (see Dec 26, 1975) with simultaneous takeoffs of Anglo-French Concorde SST aircraft from London and Paris for flights to Bahrain and Rio de Janeiro. The London-Bahrain flight, normally 6 hours 30 minutes by subsonic jet, took 4 hours 10 minutes. The Paris-Rio flight, scheduled to take 7 hours 5 minutes (compared with a subsonic time of 11 hours 10 minutes), arrived 40 minutes late. (See Feb 4, 1976.)“

I guess it’s the day for the British aerospace industry. With the typical English weather, it probably doesn’t come as too big of a surprise that they were keen to develop an instrument landing system. Likewise, the Concorde fulfilled another need for transportation to their far-flung empire. Not unlike the Comet -- the world’s first jet-powered airliner.

In case you haven’t heard of it, you might want to check out this video of the QSST -- the Quiet Supersonic Transport.

Don Brown
January 21, 2008

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